A WIDE selection of fillies, colts, mares and stallions went under the hammer last week in Chagford at the annual Pony Drift Sale.

An equine event dating back generations, the Chagford Pony Drift Sale is the last of its kind on the moor.

However, due to a resurgence in its popularity, this year will see the sale split in two, with an extra event being held on November 2.

Of the 253 ponies penned, 89.7% sold, with an average price of £215.87 per head, up from last year by £46.40.

Buyers came from all over the country, including Cambridgeshire, Lancashire, Kent, Norfolk and Sussex to name but a few. While the Drift Sale usually attracts foreign buyers, they were few and far between this year due to difficulties around documentation.

Peter Farnsworth, from the auctioneers Rendells, said: ‘The sale’s gone very well. We haven’t got quite the crowd this year but we now have two sales which is the first time we’ve done that meaning we’ll have more horses than ever.

‘They’ve been great quality ponies, they had a good summer and everyone seems happy with the prices going forward at the moment.’

The top price of the day went was Mr A. Stead’s ‘Comet’ Colt, which fetched £1386. This was followed by T. Cole and Keo’s coloured Colt for £1071.

Charlotte Faulkner, Chair of the Friends of the Dartmoor Hill Pony and the Dartmoor Hill Pony Association is one the key organisers of the event and is at the forefront of understanding and protecting Dartmoor’s most iconic inhabitant.

Charlotte said: ‘The real magic of today is how many young people are involved. The event is so young and vibrant which to me is exciting.

‘The pony keepers here call it the Dartmoor Day now because everyone from across the moor gets together and works to create this day to make sure the ponies get a future.’

Dartmoor hill ponies are genetically unique and have been part of Dartmoor’s environment and culture of millennia.

Every year in autumn, these free-roaming ponies are rounded up by the farmers to whom they belong. They are headed off the moor and into local farms in what’s known as a Drift. After being sorted and checked, the mothers and some ponies are returned to the moor to maintain correct stocking rates while the rest are found new homes off the moor.

Each pony at the Drift Sale is given a pony passport, including a chip and documentation detailing important information about the animal. Charlotte explained: ‘The point of the passports is to create a level of traceability once the ponies leave the moor. They have a traceable document with a microchip that tells you where they are, where they’re going and who they belong to.’

Each year, the Drift Sale is a monumental effort from the organisers, auctioneers, farmers and handlers.

Peter Farnsworth said: ‘A big thanks to Dartmoor Hill Pony Association, Charlotte Faulkner and her team. It’s a big effort as well as the local livestock handers, their work is very impressive.’

Charlotte added: ‘Thank you to all the buyers, who recognise the value of the ponies want to give them a future.’